Why Are My iPhone Apps Waiting or Stuck? Here’s the Fix.

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You’re trying to update your iPhone apps, but they’re stuck on waiting. Thankfully, the fix for this problem is usually very simple. In this article, I’ll show you the real fixes for iPhone apps that are stuck waiting to update, both using your iPhone and using iTunes, so you can update your apps and get back to using your iPhone.

Check Your iPhone’s Internet Connection

Update AppsYou’ve gone to the App Store, visited the Updates tab, and chosen Update or Update All. It’s normal for apps to take a few moments to start the download process and do the update. But if it’s been more than 15 minutes or so and your app icon is still grayed out with the word “waiting” underneath, it’s time to do some investigating.

Your internet connection could be to blame. Your iPhone needs to be connected to the internet to download app updates, so you either need to be on a Wi-Fi network or your iPhone carrier’s cellular network. The connection also has to be stable.

First, check your iPhone to make sure it isn’t in Airplane Mode. To do that, go to Settings → Airplane Mode. The box next to Airplane Mode should be white. If it’s green, tap the toggle to turn it white. If your iPhone was in Airplane Mode, turning it off will automatically trigger it to reconnect to your default cellular and Wi-Fi connections.

Reconnect, give it a minute, then check on your iPhone apps. The updates should start to download, giving you a progress indicator on the app icon and in the App Store under Updates. If you don’t see that and your iPhone apps are still stuck waiting, try some of our other fixes.

Delete the App and Try Again

It’s possible that the app had an issue trying to do the update. You can bypass this issue by uninstalling the app stuck in waiting and then reinstalling it.

How to Delete an App on Your iPhone

Delete iPhone AppsThere are a few different ways to delete an app. First, hold your finger over any app icon until an X appears in the upper left-hand corner of the app icons, and they start to wiggle. If the iPhone app stuck waiting has an X, tap it, and follow the prompts to uninstall the app.

Deleting Apps with iTunes

If you don’t see a black X, you will have to delete the app another way. If you use iTunes to buy and sync apps, you can use this program to delete an app.

To do that, open iTunes on your computer. Click the Library menu. This is located in the bar underneath File, Edit, etc. It may say Music, Movies, or another category of content.

In the dropdown Library menu, choose Apps. If Apps isn’t an option, click Edit Menu and add Apps to the list.

Delete apps using iTunes

On the apps page, you’ll see a list of all the apps you’ve used iTunes to purchase for your device. Right click on the app and select Delete to remove it from your library and your iPhone.

Now, you can download the app again on your iPhone. The latest version of the app will include the update that the previous version tried to update to when it got stuck.

Deleting Apps Other Ways

Delete App From Manage StorageYou can also delete an app in the Storage & iCloud Usage menu. To get there, go to Settings → General → Storage & iCloud Usage → Manage Storage. Be sure to select Manage Storage under STORAGE instead of ICLOUD.

Tap on the iPhone apps stuck waiting. This menu will give you an option to delete the app.

The Storage & iCloud Usage menu will also tell you which apps are taking up space on your device. Speaking of that…

Is Your iPhone Out of Space?

Check remaining storageSometimes, there are iPhone apps waiting because there isn’t enough room on your iPhone to download the updates. In Storage & iCloud Usage, you’ll see exactly how much room is available on your iPhone (whoops, mine doesn’t look so good!) and which apps are using the most memory.

You can clear up space on your iPhone by:

  • Deleting apps you don’t use.
  • Using iCloud to back up your photos and videos.
  • Getting rid of long text conversations.
  • Deleting files in apps, such as audio books, that take up a lot of space on your iPhone.

Once you make more room on your iPhone, check your iPhone apps that are waiting or try reinstalling the apps.

Fixing Software Problems

Software is the code that tells your iPhone what to do and when to do it. Unfortunately, software doesn’t always work properly. When that’s the case, it could be the reason for iPhone apps getting stuck while waiting to download updates.

Restart Your iPhone

Restart iPhoneA simple way to help correct a software problem on your iPhone is to restart the phone. You’d be amazed how often this simple step helps!

To restart your iPhone, hold down the power button. That’s on the upper right-hand side of your iPhone. Hold it for a few seconds until the screen changes. Then, slide your finger across the part that says slide to power off. Once your iPhone is off, count to 10 and then push the power button again to restart it.

Try A Hard Reset

If a simple restart doesn’t help, try a hard reset. To do this, hold the power button and the Home button down at the same time. When the screen changes, let go of both buttons.

Performing a hard reset on an iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is a bit different because Apple moved to a non-physical Home button. After all, the Home button on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus doesn’t work at all if it’s not turned on!

To hard reset an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, press and hold the volume down button and power button together until the Apple logo shows up on the display, and then let go of both buttons. No matter which model you have, your iPhone will restart itself once you’ve released both buttons!

Reset Your iPhone Settings

If restarting the iPhone and a hard reset don’t help, you can try resetting your iPhone’s settings. This puts your software settings back to the way they were when you got your iPhone (or the latest version of your iPhone’s operating system).

To do this, go to Settings → General → Reset. Choose Reset All Settings and follow the prompts on your screen.

Back Up and Restore

If none of these steps help, you can back up your iPhone and then restore it. There are a few different ways to do this, but we here at Payette Forward like to suggest doing a DFU restore.

DFU stands for Default Firmware Update. If you go to a Genius Bar, this is the kind of backup and restore the Apple folks will do. But with a bit of help, you can do this yourself. Just make sure you have everything you want on your iPhone saved and backed up before you try this. Then, visit our article How To Put An iPhone In DFU Mode, The Apple Way for detailed instructions on what to do.

Other Fixes for iPhone Apps Stuck Waiting

If your connection is solid, your settings are right, and your iPhone apps are still stuck waiting, the problem may be with the app itself or even with the App Store.

Contact app developer for helpYou can reach out to the app’s developer with questions using the App Store. Simply go to the Updates tab and tap the name of the iPhone app that’s waiting. Tap on the Reviews tab and scroll down for App Support.

Apple keeps a handy website with the status of their system. You can check this page to see if the problem is with the App Store.

iPhone Apps: No Longer Stuck!

Like many of the issues that can happen with your iPhone, when your iPhone apps are waiting to update, you have plenty of different options for fixing the problem. Tell us about your experience with getting your iPhone unstuck in the comments section below.

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About Author

Valerie Lauer

I'm Valerie Lauer, a writer, editor and tech enthusiast. I believe in channeling my technical support powers for the greater good, creating helpful how-tos and making life with your smartphone easier.